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Can’t we get along?

For those hoping city hall and transit management have a firm handle on how to right the ship at Guelph Transit, it was disconcerting to see the differences of opinion voiced at Monday’s council meeting by Guelph Transit’s general manager and the head of the bus dri-vers’ union.
The way to bring reliability back to the local bus system, notably in terms of cutting the number of missed connections, is to switch from 15-minute peak service to 20-minute peak service for the time being, Guelph Transit head Michael Anders told council.
Not so, said Andy Cleary, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local representing Guelph Transit drivers. He called this change, due to go into effect Feb. 3 as a result of council’s decision Monday, “another Band-Aid, not a complete fix.”
Instead, Cleary said, Guelph Transit should return to the schedule that was used before Guelph Transit’s revamp at the start of this year – namely, 20-minute service for 11 straight hours on weekdays, with 30-minute service on weekday evenings and weekends. It will be confusing to switch back and forth between 20-minute peak and 30-minute off-peak service during the day, just as it has been between 15-minute and 30-minute service, Cleary said. And, he asserted, bus ridership doesn’t really drop off all that much between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, and the 30-minute service offered during those hours hasn’t been “getting it done” in terms of reliability.
Cleary indicated the city’s bus drivers aren’t happy about criticism directed at them in a blunt city hall report that led to Monday’s decision to abandon 15-minute peak service until further notice.
The report said many riders are missing connections because drivers are leaving Guelph Central Station ahead of schedule. It also said transit managers are investigating why it takes some drivers significantly longer than others to complete the same route.
It’s been a rough year for transit managers, and for the city’s bus drivers, as Guelph Transit tried to implement a revamped bus system that just hasn’t worked well enough. But it has also been a rough year for bus riders, who’ve been on the receiving end of transit’s reliability problems.
Here’s hoping transit management and drivers can pull together and make the system work better in 2013.

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